The Tampa Bay Lightning continue its road trip with the team's first of three visits this season to Winnipeg. Coming off of a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, it's important the Lightning end the two-game road trip with a win. The Lightning is 3-5-2 on the road this season and even that isn't indicative of how the team has played away from the Forum.
Tampa Bay has been outscored 17-8 in the first period in road contests so far this season. The Lightning has also allowed 35 goals on the road this season, which is tied for 29th.
So what's the deal? It's simple. The Lightning is coming out flat and is not generating any sort of offense on the road, especially in its last loss to St. Louis. It felt like the Lightning spent almost the entire game in their own end which is not going to do much to score goals.The Lightning only had 18 shots on goal the entire game which is a season low for the club.
Tampa Bay's forwards have to generate more offense, especially in the first period if anything is going to change. This season, the Lightning are 4-1-1 when scoring the first goal, showing the importance of the quick start for them.
The Lightning could easily grab a win tonight up in Winnipeg though. Tampa Bay has completely dominated the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise. The Jets haven't posted a win over Tampa Bay since they were formally known as the Thrashers, with a 6-3 win on Oct. 3 2009. If the Lightning win tonight, it will be 13 straight wins over the franchise, which would be an NHL record for wins over a single franchise.
The last time these two met, Dwayne Roloson had 28 saves, and earned his team a shut out at the St. Pete Times Forum, with Vincent Lecavalier scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win in October. Roloson will be between the pipes tonight for the Lightning, after backing up Mathieu Garon in Sunday's loss to the Blues.
For Winnipeg, they are currently enduring a five-game losing streak. While the Jets have gone 0-3-2, defensemen Dustin Byfuglien has been on a five game scoring streak (one goal, five assists). The Jets' last contest was a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday where starting goal Ondrej Pavelec started his ninth game between the pipes for his team. Winnipeg had a 36-27 shot advantage against the Bluejackets, but came up short in the loss.
Tonight's game against the Lightning begins a three-game home stand for the Jets.
After tonight's game, the Lightning head back home for a three game home-stand against Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Toronto.
Prediction: The domination continues! That's only if the Lightning play 60 minutes of hockey though. If they don't, don't even remember my prediction if it's completely off!Tampa Bay 3 Winnipeg: 1
Where: MTS Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba
When: 8:30 p.m. EDT
Coverage: Sun Sports (T.V.) 970 WFLA (Radio)
1ST PERIOD UPDATE
The first period did not go well for the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, though they trail the Winnipeg Jets 0-2, we can expect several goals from the Bolts in the coming periods.
The Bolts broke grand tradition and started off the night with a refreshing amount of energy and were rewarded with a great chance 2 minutes into the first when a well-placed puck by Lightning defensemen Brett Clark was narrowly saved by Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Despite their energy however, the Bolts struggled at times to get the puck out of their zone. First blood was drawn by the Jets' Evander Kane 4:51 into the first, ending Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson's 7 period shut out spree. Shortly thereafter, an ill-placed pass by the Lightning defense gave Jets Left Wing Tanner Glass the puck right in front of Roloson who narrowly saved the goal.
The Lightning failed to convert during 2 power-plays, one off a high sticking call against Kane midway through the period (one that accidently smacked St. Louis right in the face) and a slashing call against Defenseman Mark Stuart. However, solid defense by the Jets and several excellent saves by Pavelec effectively killed the Bolts' powerplay.
The game really heated up when Winnipeg Center Jim Slater interfered with Roloson, knocking him off his feet and allowed Dustin Byfuglin to score his 3rd goal of the season. A replay on Sun Sports clearly showed Slater's left skate swipe Rolosons right out from under him. Roloson fell, and Byfuglin's puck barely passed over the Lightning's net-minder and sail into the net. However, the referees obviously didn't see what the rest of humanity saw and didn't call Slater for goaltender interference. The goal stood.
Though the score is 2-0 Jets, the Bolts had some excellent chances, including a shot by Martin St Louis that would have gone in if not for a superb effort by Pavelec. I expect the Bolts to get on the board very soon. Given the fact that Winnipeg is missing 5 of their defensemen to injury, it's only a matter of time till Lightning scores.
Shots on goal:
2nd PERIOD UPDATE
This is turning into yet another awful road game for the Lightning. A minor unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was added to a holding penalty against Zach Bogosian, gave Tampa an impressive 4 minute power-play. However, it seems likes nothing was going the Bolts' way and didn't manage to convert on the double penalty.
The Jets, on the other hand, took the score to 3-0 when Mark Flood scored a 59 ft slapshot off a hooking penalty against Lightning's Steve Downie.
Though down by 3 points, the Lightning's pace didn't slag and Martin St Louis scored the first Lightning goal of the night with assistance by Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier. There celebration was short lived when Andrew Ladd's wrister found its way into the net, giving the Jets their 3 point lead.
To add insult to injury, the Jets kept the Bolts from scoring off a 3-on-5 situation (a hooking against Johnny Oduva and a high-sticking against Alex Burmistrov). This was the 6th Lightning power-play. They have not scored on any of them....
I still think the Lighting can pull this one out of the hole but it's going to be really tough. The Lightning need to keep skating hard, get a little more physical, and hope that 3rd period hockey will carry them into overtime.
Shots on Goa:
It was a big win for the Jets. The 5-2 score simultaneously gave Winnipeg its revenge for the past 12 consecutive losses it suffered at the hands of the Lightning and broke a 5 game losing streak. Though the Lightning skated hard throughout the entire period, they were never able to overcome the sizeable deficit they found themselves facing from way back when (midway in the first period).
3rd period hockey is awesome! I don't know what Tampa Bay Head Coach Guy Boucher said to his guys during the break, but the Bolts seemed to have shrugged off the weight of their 3 goal deficit and skated like they could win. Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon quickly showed Guy Boucher's decision to yank Roloson as a good one, making several good saves that kept the game within reason. However, Garon wasn't able to stop Jet's Tanner Glass from deflecting a puck off teammate Tim Stapelton and into the Lightning net. 18 seconds later, Stamkos made it up by scoring with the assistance of Matt Gilroy, bringing the score 2-5 Jets.
The Jets played a fast paced, relentless, and hard hitting game. Tampa was never able to set the pace. While the Lightning had periods of good offense interspersed throughout the evening, the Jets seemed to have a much steadier attack pattern that put constant pressure on Dwayne Roloson (with 4 goals against and a save percentage of just 81.8%) and Mathieu Garon (with 1 goal against and a save percentage of 94.1%). The fact that their goalie Ondrej Pavelec had a solid night (2 goals against with a pretty good save percentage of 93.8%) didn't hurt their momentum. In the end, the Jets outshot the Lightning 39-32 through constant pressure. They also outhit Tampa with 16 registered hits to Tampa's 9. Tampa never played on their own terms.
This loss was important for Tampa for two equally obvious reasons. The first is that it illustrates a larger pattern for Tampa. Tampa's road record this season is 3-6-2. In order for this team to have a solid spot in the playoffs, that sort of pattern needs to change rather quickly. The second reason that this loss is obviously important for Tampa is that the Bolts didn't convert on a single one of their 7 power-play opportunities. It is important to notice that 2 of these penalties made for a 4 minute power-play opportunity (2 minor penalties against Zach Bogosian for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct) and another 2 made for a 3-on-5 situation that lasted well over a minute (Johnny Oduya for hooking and Alex Burmistrov for high-sticking), both of which were in Tampa's favor. A team that cannot score on power-plays is not going to succeed.